I’m always on the hunt for family-friendly restaurants in London, and it’s often a topic we’re asked about. Guest blogger Sian Gwilliam from mycultureclub.me gives us the low-down on the hot spots for family food this festive season.
We love a Hix Fix as a treat. The team and Mark himself not only believe in decent, quality food, they also quote that “Food and Art are the perfect marriage”. A statement that runs through the heart of the events at mycultureclub.me too. Also impressive is that the the kids eat free at the weekends, and between 4-6pm on weekdays. The ‘Calves Menu’ here is the most impressive kids food we have been lucky to try.
When at Hix Bankside, our ‘foodie’ 9 year old goes straight for the glenarm minute steak with chips (£8.50) whilst our vegetarian 7 year old favours the fillet of fish with Tiptoe Farm potatoes and spring greens (£7.50). With a live jazz band at the weekends, and a bottomless brunch on Saturdays, we’d be foolish not to share the Hix love with you.
P.s. Also on the list for fans, is trying a fish dog from their pop-up posh fish finger van HIX’S FISH DOG. Often to be found at farmers’ markets and summer festivals across the UK.
INFO: Monday to Friday 4pm – 6pm, and on the weekends from 12pm – 6pm (except on Saturday at Chop House it is only between 5pm-6pm) for all children under 10 years old when accompanied by a dining adult at the following HIX restaurants: Tramshed & Soho & Chop House.
If your family like Pizza, why not make a special trip to Carnaby Street, and tell them a little story on the way. It’s a tale about two brothers (let’s call them Thom and James) they both had decent but boring jobs in the City (I put that bit in for dramatic effect!), and then they had a (cheesy) dream. They loved Neapolitan pizza so much they bought themselves a 3-wheeled Piaggio van and took a 6-week holiday around Italy, researching, grating, and squashing the finest pizza ingredients along their travels.
This journey was the beginning of the Pizza Pilgrim dream becoming a reality.
In that very same van they travelled in, once home they then installed an Italian stone pizza oven inside it, and popped it up in Leather Lane market feeding the hungry office workers. Soon, their fresh, doughy and moorish pizzas became the talk of pop-up town, and the rest they say is a piz-za history! They also managed to write and publish a book at the same time as flipping those bases, you can see it here.
There aren’t any baby chairs at this little street food joint-turned-pizza restaurant, but children often enjoy sitting and eating their slices at the football table. Pizzas start from £7 for a Margarita, and they offer a perfect range of mini ice cream cones £3.50, blood orange sorbet £4.50 and a decent Affogato for £4.
This Christmas they have a brussel sprout and pancetta pizza on the menu and were running an offer of 1/2 price pizza if you took in a decoration. Why not pop a little reindeer in your pocket and try your luck! Their hashtag for the insta happy is #”Žmerrycrustmas
Honest Burgers (Oxford Circus, Peckham, Notting Hill, Camden)
Tom and Phil met in 2010 whilst working at a Brighton restaurant. Soon after, they bought a small marquee and decided to go it alone serving burgers at festivals and events. After meeting Dorian, Tom moved to Brixton in 2011 and within a few months they’d signed a lease on a tiny unit in Brixton Village.
The kids’ menu is a mini version of the adults’ one (just as we like it), they just serve smaller portions. The mini burgers come with the rosemary salted chips, and cost 50% less than the grown-up meals. Popular extras include cauliflower, shallot and sweetcorn fritters. They have gluten free options too.
Maroush (Knightsbridge, Bayswater, Edgware Road, Ken Church Street, Oxford St)
LEBANESE/ EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN
Lebanese families love socialising, and spending quality time with their friends, often enjoying a debate or two over a traditional coffee (Kahwah). It’s a way of life to share food, which is why they serve small plates of different dishes.
Choose from vegetables, poultry or lamb and spectacular fresh fruit and juices. The staff always entertain the kids, and welcome everyone with open arms. You can sit at the bar and have a quick service of wraps, meze and juices, or table service.
Don’t expect kids’ menus, just let the kids share with you, and make sure you don’t expect them to eat everything if it’s your first visit. They will soon follow suit, but will best learn from example once they realise that it’s all delicious.
We often get Shawarma chicken wraps £7.50 for our eldest, and hummus and flat bread (£5.75) for our smaller one. Main courses are around the £15 mark. The fresh juices are totally divine £3.50. Ask for advice with the ordering if you need it, the staff will be more than willing. If you have room, treat yourself to a Baklawa with your coffee – a small delicious mouthful.
Hare & Tortoise ( Bloomsbury, Ealing, Putney, Kensington, Blackfriars, Chiswick)
We are secret experts when it comes to testing out family Japanese restaurants. Asian food is at the top of our list, and although we don’t get down to SW London so much these days, our kids know their Maki from their Ikura Gunkun across town.
It’s not a cheap habit to support, but if you start the kids off with a bowl of steamed rice, then they should have less room for the salmon and tuna sashimi.
We are fans of the Hare & Tortoise chain, and mainly go to their Brunswick Centre restaurant after a trip to Corams Field playground, or browse around the shops if its raining (again).
It’s a no frills experience, where the staff usher you in, and you won’t wait long for your food. We are fans of everything from the edamame (£3.30), gyoza (£3.50), sushi, ramen(£6-7), roast duck and rice (£7.10), noodle dishes (£6.80) and if were not counting calories the tempura is welcome too.
Go easy on your ordering lots of dishes, and like I said, don’t let the kids order off the menu if they know their sushi well, or you’ll be broke as a sashimi dish alone can cost £8. Try ordering an adult rice or noodle dish and ask for small bowls to share it out. The staff are always obliging.
Wahaca (Southbank, West End, Westfield W12)
MEXICAN STREET FOOD
All the Wahaca restaurants are happy to have the kids in tow. They are fun, and brightly designed spaces. Our elves are mad for the ceiling hanging swing chair in the upstairs of the Charlotte Street restaurant.
Co-owner and Masterchef winner, Tommi Miers is a great chef, author, presenter, mum and supporter of food education, She has made a big effort to keep her menus healthy, natural and sources ingredients locally wherever possible.
Prices are £5.25 for the kids menu offering a taco or quesadilla and a drink (hibiscus water is a favourite), with an extra £1.20 for an ice-cream.
I didn’t tell you that they also do the most delicious and luxurious churros with chocolate did I? Definitely not one for sharing with anyone, and a time to lead by a very bad example as parents! A happy and easy restaurant for any time of day. Enjoy.
Also, Kids EAT FREE at these family friendly restaurants…
Bodean’s (Soho, Clapham, Tower Hill) is an American BBQ dusty and finger licking small chain where kids eat for free between 12-3pm for every full priced adult meal purchased.
Belgo (Covent Garden, Bromley, Camden, Kingsway) The best ever Belgian moules & frites in town, with great chicken, fish, pasta and ‘real’ sausages for the non-mussel lovers. At weekends kids eat free with one main course per adults.
Sophie’s Steakhouse (Fulham, Covent Garden) Kids eat free at the Covent Garden restaurant on Sundays. The ‘special of the day’ is the ultimate Sunday roast, which is as good as you get at home. Go online to their website and down load the voucher here.
Tate Modern kids can eat for free* in the cafÃ© when an accompanying adult buys a main course from the menu.*Valid at lunchtime only for children aged 12 or under, for one child eating with an accompanying adult in either the cafÃ© or the restaurant on level 6. Subject to availability.
British Museum. Take a visit to the Gallery Cafe (which is tucked away to the left of the entrance as you come in from Covent Garden) they also offer a ‘kids eat free’ deal.
You can also take a look at these other family friendly places: Westfield Mall ‘Kids Club‘ members get lots of food offers within the restaurants as well as Pizza Express lots of 2for1 offers if you sign up to their site, Dim T (Noodles & Dim Sum), Wagamama (noodles, stir fry & ramen), Rainforest Cafe (American), Giraffe (International), Yo Sushi (Sushi), The Butlers Wharf Chop House kids eat free during various school holidays (booking required), Ed’s Easy Diner (Burgers, big fries and milkshakes) and our family favourite Mexican for nachos and burritos Chipotle, with friendly staff and a super-quick order at the bar service.
At newly launched bespoke pizza restaurant Pizza Buzz in the City on Worship Street, they are offering a new kids’ menu called LittleBeez. For kids 12 years and under, they get a Little Beez 6”³ pizza, dough balls, and Mamoo ice cream for £6.95 (plus a goodie bag too!), and in January 2016 kids will EAT FREE.
If you need to book for a special event like a private room, or birthday party you can use these handy websites (that often run special offers too) Square Meal or Toptable. You can also read more about the Out to Lunch campaign set up by the Sustainable Restaurant Association here.
By Sian Gwilliam, mycultureclub.me
Sian is a Mum of two hungry, sporty and creative girls aged 9 and 7. She lives in Camden and is married to a successful comedy writer, who steals all his material from the kids! She runs popular culture family blog www.creativebusstop.com and has recently launched mycultureclub.me a concierge and members club for curious grown ups and kids.
She organises group cultural & fun events in London. She does all the ground work, and finds out the best events not to miss in town. Sign up online for free membership for a limited time, www.mycultureclub.me.